BREXIT Secretary Dominic Raab has been branded “clueless” after admitting he hadn’t understood how much UK trade relied on the crossing between Dover and Calais.

Mr Raab, who backed Leave, was accused of not understanding the basics of Brexit after making the remark at a technology conference.

The gaffe coincided with the European Commission predicting the UK will have the lowest GDP growth in Europe in 2019 and 2020, at 1.2% , even with a “benign” Brexit.

The EU average in those years is forecast to be 2% and 1.9%, and the Commission warned a bad or No Deal Brexit would create even larger downside risks to the UK economy.

Almost a fifth of the UK’s entire trade in goods by value enters Dover on more than 2.5m heavy goods lorries each year, and a No Deal Brexit could gridlock the port.

Despite its importance to the economy, Mr Raab said on Wednesday night: “We want a bespoke arrangement in goods which recognises the peculiar geographic, economic entity that is the UK.

“I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.”

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said: “This is a stunning admission that shows just how clueless the Tories are about their Brexit plans. A Tory Brexit could have a catastrophic impact on trade with the continent and leave supermarket shelves empty.”

Labour MP Jenny Chapman suggested Mr Raab “doesn’t even understand the very basics of Brexit”, while pro-Remain Tory MP Nicky Morgan tweeted: “Gulp.”

There were more signs yesterday that Theresa May is getting closer to a deal with the other EU nations, if not with her own party and cabinet.

A news agency in Austria, which holds the EU presidency, suggested an EU summit on November 25 to ratify a deal, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was confident of a deal within three weeks.

The UK Government had also called a joint ministerial committee to discuss Brexit with the devolved nations next Tuesday in London.

But former Brexit Secretary David Davis, predicted the PM would probably lose a Commons vote on a deal, especially if MPs did not see the legal advice on an Irish backstop.

Nicola Sturgeon, who today attends the British Irish Council in the Isle of Man, said Mrs May was “cooking up a recipe for Brexit disaster” by trying to hide the damage it would cause rather than being straight with people.

“The Prime Minister isn’t putting together a deal that will last. She’s promising all things to all people and hoping no-one will notice.”

“It is simply not possible to pull the wool over people’s eyes in this way and it is a recipe for Brexit disaster.

“The Prime Minister is simultaneously promising the UK will be out of the Customs Union - while it seems she is negotiating behind closed doors to try to stay in it.

“This is all a desperate attempt to keep the warring factions of the Conservative Party together but is bound to unravel and lead to yet more chaos.”